Sunday, July 05, 2015

Waiting Forever For ‘The One’

The anticipation has been excruciating enough. For us, if not for him.
How much longer must we consider Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli our premier in waiting?
The Nepali New Year appearance of
When the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) leader emerged aloft Dharahara to mark the Nepali New Year, the appearance was supposed to have marked the apogee of his pre-premier tenure. Instead, nature turned furious and toppled that tower, and much else.
The post-quake agreement that led to the issuance of the first draft of the Constitution seemed predicated on Oli’s anointment. But something seems to have happened somewhere. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala doesn’t sound like someone about to throw in the towel, does he?
Ever since the last election, Oli has become indispensable to the success of UML, eclipsing party rivals such as Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhal Nath Khanal and Bam Dev Gautam. Afflicted by an identity crisis since its birth, the party is struggling to maintain its relevance between the Nepali Congress and the Maoists. The eggheads in the party are eternally deploying their entire erudition to craft a coherent party platform conforming to the times.
It doesn’t seem to matter that Oli spends half his time in the hospital or in convalescence somewhere here or abroad. Worse, we don’t know what it is that really ails him. Yet, his party – at least a substantial chunk of it – sees in Oli its savior.
During the years of royal assertiveness, Oli seemed to have a soft spot for the palace. At one point, Madhav Nepal had to cut short a visit abroad to restrain Oli from joining the royal cabinet (even as its head).
Once the Maoists entered the mainstream, Oli was one of the few luminaries of the Seven Party Alliance who consistently questioned the former rebels’ commitment to peace and democracy.
When then-Prime Minister Khanal awarded the home portfolio to Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara while Oli was out of the country, Oli returned home to describe the move as a conspiracy against the party. But, then, others had indulged in far worse demagoguery.
To be sure, Oli’s background and experience make him a credible candidate for the party leadership. That he has so energized the rank and file is a tribute to his leadership qualities. But what about the rest of us? Don’t we need to know why he’s been in the waiting room so long?
There are suggestions that the ‘establishment’ faction in India is against the 16 Point
Agreement and is speaking through the Madhesi parties. But we don’t know the exact configuration of the ‘establishment’, do we?
With Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Mohan Baidya having turned against China for its Lipu-lekh transgressions, the extreme left seems likely to have a say in who becomes what.  If Oli has suddenly turned suspicious of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, you can’t blame him. Dahal, after all, has a propensity for weighing the personal and political with exactitude. And he is scheduled to leave on an official trip to India.
Oli is, therefore, compelled to continue providing lip service to the UML’s alliance with the Nepali Congress. For now, setting deadline upon deadline for the formal promulgation of the Constitution has become his way of preserving of maintaining frontrunner status.